Yes, the hope of the world is the Kingdom of God. All you have to do is watch the news on television to become overwhelmed at the unbelievable presence of evil in this world today. It’s depressing and seemingly hopeless. In fact, if not for my belief that Jesus came to earth as “God among us” and showed us how perfect love could conquer evil… I would have no hope at all. But he did. Jesus showed us that by loving our enemies, even to the point of dying at their hands was the only way to conquer evil. That is the point that we will eventually have to come to trust in order to bring this world into the Kingdom of God. We will do it. The Church will be triumphant. It won’t happen until we learn to trust in the power of Jesus. In “power under”. Historically, the Church has been known as one of the most barbaric and violent forces in the world. But the Church should never be militant. We have to learn to trust in the power of the cross; not the sword. We have to learn to trust in the power of love; of self-sacrificial love. Jesus could have called 10,000 angels. He could have conquered Rome. And actually the “Church” did eventually conquer Rome. For over a thousand years the “Church” conquered and ruled over most of Europe by the power of the sword. But where is the “Church” in Europe now? The “Church” in Europe is pretty much dead now. When you take up the sword, you die by the sword. We have to be willing to lay down our lives for our enemies. We have to be willing to serve our enemies.
One of the greatest advantages of being a believer in the Kingdom of God is knowing where you are going when you die. Actually, death and the Kingdom of God are mutually exclusive terms. There is no death in the Kingdom of God.
I used to fear death but now I feel such a peace about it. Yes, I believe that Jesus died for my sins and defeated Jesus by giving his life for me just as I am. I am a sinner and deserve to go to Hell. But all my sins have now been erased.
Everything that is not compatible with the Kingdom of God will be burned away. Actually, the moment I confessed my belief in Jesus, I was blessed “in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”(Ephesians 1:3)
The Heavenly Realms
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Also from Ephesians 1)
This says to me that anyone who believes that Jesus died for their sins immediately receives every spiritual blessing in Heaven. In other words, there is a “Jesus version” of each of us in Heaven. Not the same person that we are here on earth.
No, there is a perfect version of us in the Heavenly realms. It is the version of us that we will be someday. The version of us that God sees. No one has proof that this is true. It takes faith to believe in the Kingdom of God. But after weighing all the available evidence, I have chosen to put my faith in the Kingdom of God.
I have to wonder about America and the Kingdom of God. If you listen to the public polls taken in the U.S., America is the most Christian nation on the planet. Just ask anyone. But what does that mean… really?
Most people in America don’t really know what the word “Christian” means anymore. It doesn’t really mean too much. For the most part, it means that, “Hey, I was born in America, a Christian nation, and I’m a pretty good person.”
But there is another poll out there that tells a different story. That’s the poll that asks Americans what they would do in different ethical situations if there was no way they could be caught. The results of that poll show that most people in America are some of the most debaucherous people on the planet.
I’m Not A Christian
Just for the record, I don’t usually even refer to myself as a Christian anymore, mostly for 3 reasons. First of all, the word “Christian” has been so totally bastardized that it doesn’t stand for really mean anything anymore. I usually refer to myself as a follower of Jesus instead. Secondly, most non Christians can’t stand so called Christian and for good reason. Most of the “Christians” I run into are not very Jesus-like. And last, but not least, it’s a lot easier to talk to non-believers about Jesus, if you don’t start out by saying that you are a Christian. I’ve heard people say things like, “I love Jesus and I want to be a believer, but I just can’t stand Christians.”
I know of a sculptor who grew up on a farm. As a young man he had to spend a lot of time with the cattle and to pass the time he used to practice his sculpting using cow manure. He could create the most beautiful works of art out of cow dung. And then he would put a lacquer over his creations and paint them and you would never guess that underneath the veneer was nothing but cow poop. I think, that’s pretty much what we have here in America for the most part… a lot of outwardly beautiful shiny looking so-called Christians with a lot of poop on the inside. That’s America and the Kingdom of God.
Don’t get me wrong. I love America. But America is not the Kingdom of God. It is one of the kingdoms of the world. I happen to believe that America is the best of the kingdoms of the world but… a kingdom of the world, nonetheless. To be sure, these kingdoms are very necessary in a fallen world.
Governments run the kingdoms of the world which rule by power over. According to Romans 13, in so much as the kingdoms and governments of the world help to keep law and order and decency… they are a good thing and a necessary thing… But not necessarily a Christian thing.
But in this fallen world, some people will never do the right thing for the right reason. It’s up to the government to make sure that people do the right thing for the wrong reason. You don’t really care why someone doesn’t kill you. If the threat of going to prison or some other punishment keeps them from killing you, it is a good thing.
If someone is murdering innocent people and is then killed by a law enforcement officer… that is a good “kingdom of the world thing”… but it’s not a Christian thing. The problem is that some would have us fuse the good “kingdom of the world” thing as being a Christian thing. Something can only be truly Christian if it looks like Jesus. If something doesn’t look like Jesus, it can’t be truly Christian. It might be a good thing to kill someone in the name of the law, but it is never a good thing to kill someone in the name of Jesus.
America is not a Christian nation
We like to think of America as a “Christian nation”. The problem with that is that when America does things that aren’t really Christian, the rest of the world looks at us and says, “Hey look what those Christians do”. They’ve bought the lie that America is a Christian nation. There is no such thing as a “Christian nation”. Their very nature of ruling people with “power over”, threats and fear of punishment exempts any nation from being truly Christian.
In Luke 4, Satan offered Jesus the power to rule over all the kingdoms of the world. “5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.” Jesus didn’t dispute Satan’s claim. Jesus, on the other hand, defeated Satan by using the powers of the Kingdom of God… that is by using “power under” instead of “power over”… By loving to the point of dying on the cross. Something is only Christian as much as it looks like Jesus dying on the cross. If it looks like anything else… it’s not Christian. And so, in conclusion, America is not the Kingdom of God.
As I said in my second post, titled “What Is The Kingdom Of God“, the Kingdom of God first existed in the Garden of Eden. Since the fall of mankind, we have been living in the Kingdom of the World. We have been stuck in this world ever since.
It’s all most of us know. From the moment we left the bliss of the Kingdom of God we been fighting with each other to gain control of our destiny. Violence upon violence. War after war. Great empires have risen and fallen over and over again.
But something really amazing happened during the Roman Empire era. A poor Jewish peasant boy was born and somehow changed the world forever. However you feel about the historicity or the validity of the Bible, you cannot deny that the life of this one person, Jesus impacted the world like no one ever has before or since.
The Really Good News About Jesus
Even though there is much controversy among scholars because of the discrepancies found in the four Gospels (the first 4 books in the New Testament, also referred to as the “Good News”), no one can dispute the fact that Jesus performed numerous miracles and that he rose from the dead. He was seen by hundreds of people after being publicly executed.
I’m not going to go into all the evidence in this post but I will do that eventually. For now please click here for more information on the truth about Jesus.
Anyway, something really amazing happened when Jesus died on the cross and then rose again from the dead. This is the real “Good News”. By defeating death, Jesus defeat Satan. Satan was the one who got us kicked out of the Kingdom of God to begin with. By defeating Satan, Jesus began restoring the Kingdom of God on earth again.
Jesus is the example that we have to go by if we really want to “seek ye first the Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of the World is still trying to conquer by using power over with wars and force and violence. But Jesus conquered by using power under… by serving and loving others even to the point of dying for others. Anywhere you find this kind of love… the love of Jesus… you will find the Kingdom of God.
How can I seek The Kingdom of God From the Inside Out
First of all, do you know how to show people the Kingdom of God from the inside out? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just escape this World and live exclusively in the Kingdom of God? That is exactly what many people attempt to accomplish once they have found some peace in their search for the Kingdom of God.
But you can’t really do that and still be an effective Christian influence on the Kingdom of the world. We must not lose our saltiness. We must not bury our heads in the sand in an effort to be unaffected by all the chaos going on around us.
On the other hand, as followers of Jesus were are not called to fix the people around us. We are called to love and serve them. Basically, it’s all about Jesus. It’s all about being more like him. Jesus never tried to “fix” people. Jesus was all about meeting people where they were at and loving them just as they were.
How did Jesus do the Kingdom?
Jesus saw a need and met that need. Jesus healed someone if they were sick. If people were hungry, Jesus fed them. If someone was out of wine at a wedding… Jesus made wine out of water! But Jesus never said, “Hey you have to stop your bad habits before I am going to help you.”
Jesus changed people from the inside out. And that is still the way he operates. All you have to do is invite him into your life… just the way you are. You don’t have to quit smoking or drinking or cussing or whatever first.
But when you feel the love of Jesus inside you something happens. Sometimes it happens immediately and other times it takes years, but it will happen… and it will happen from the inside out. Who else does that?
In conclusion, The “normal” way of attempting to “fix” someone is to start with the outside. This unfortunately includes most “Christians” that I know of in most churches. They think that you need to tell people how to fix their lives on the outside. If they can just get you to look like a Christian on the outside then you will be a Christian on the inside. But too many times, what you end up with is a church full of people who look good on the outside but are full of crap on the inside. They need to seek the Kingdom of God from the inside out.
Why should we seek first the Kingdom of God?
Why should we even care?
What is it all about?
Well… it’s all about Jesus.
“Oh no”, you say… not another Christian!
I hear you… I know what you mean. I love Jesus… but Christians? … not so much.
Actually Christians and the so called “Church” at large are probably the greatest objections for most people considering following Jesus.
But Jesus never intended to start a religion. Especially a religious machine such as the Christian religion became in such a short time. The “Church” was supposed to be the example of what it was to be like Jesus… and it was… at least it was for the first few hundred years. “They will know you are Christian by your love.”
The first Christians were all about loving others and imitating Jesus to the point of dying for their beliefs. What made them do that. I believe it was all about the “Good News”. Not the so called “Good News” we hear about today.
Today we here that if we do this and obey that law or rule and don’t sin… and so on and so on… then we can have ticket to Heaven and free “get out of Hell” card.
The Real Good News
That is not what Jesus was about. He never tried to “fix” anyone from the outside in. He fixed people from the inside out by coming under them and just loving them the way they were.
Take for instance, the Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well. She told Jesus about her sins and he told her he already knew all about them but he didn’t tell her she had to go fix her life and then he would help her. No, he said that he had the water of life and freely offered it to her to drink. “Just drink of this water and you will never thirst again”.
But the typical Christian today wants to point to your sins and tell you that you need to change or you are going to Hell. What kind of love is that?
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God… and the Kingdom of God looks like Jesus.
The Kingdom of God is the world God originally created for man. It once existed as the Garden of Eden. Most likely you already know the story. (You can read it here.)
Some people believe in the literal Adam and Eve story while others believe as I do that this is a story told by Moses to explain the creation in a way that the people of his time might understand. I believe the basic premise of the story to be true… that man sinned and was not able to walk with God in his Kingdom any longer.
In the same way, it doesn’t matter to me if you believe in the literal 7 days of creation or the “Big Bang” theory or any of the other theories of creation. Just know that God did it and he could do it however he wanted… but that’s another story for another post.
Man existed with God in his Kingdom in the Garden of Eden. Everything was as it should be. The Kingdom of God was perfect. Basically, it was Heaven on Earth. All we had to do is trust in God. But we weren’t able to do that.
That liar Satan filled Eve’s head with doubts. He told her that God didn’t want her to eat of the tree of good and evil because he didn’t want us to be like God. Satan wanted Eve to believe that there was something else to seek after that God wasn’t giving her. He wanted her to think that God was holding out on her.
It’s still that way today. Satan is always trying to deceive us by tempting us with something “better” than what God has promised us.
So anyway, Eve eats the “apple” and like a good husband, Adam didn’t try to argue with her. Happy wife… happy life… right? Well not hardly. But seriously… what if Adam wouldn’t have eaten of the apple?
Would God have kicked Eve out and let Adam stay? What kind of Heaven would that have been? All alone in Paradise. I guess God could have taken another rib out and tried again…. I digress.
Anyhow, we would never go against our better half… not then and not now so there’s not much sense in considering the possibilities.
So here we are… stuck in the Kingdom of the World.
Sorry to use the Old King James Version for this quote but I was surprised to find that so many people search for exactly this verse, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”. That would be Matthew 6:33 KJV.
I know I am probably offending a lot of people by apologizing for using the King James Version. I do know some people who believe that the King James version is the only real version of the Bible. After all, that’s the way it was written by Moses… right??? lol.
But seriously, I find it very hard to read at times. Being a rather old fart, I grew up when their weren’t so many readily available translations as there are today. So I memorized a lot of scripture from the King James Bible as I was growing up. Some scriptures, for example the 23rd Psalm, just don’t sound right to me unless I hear them from the King James Version.
Personally, I don’t give a rat’s behind which version of the Bible you use. Just pick one and use it. I have several and like to switch between to get a fresh view sometimes. I guess I would have to say my favorites are the New Living Translation, The Word, and the New Living Translation Amplified.